Have you seen pro athletes do a few special things right before a big moment?  Often they’re practicing rituals to prepare their actions, steady their nerves, or get focused. Rituals – repeated sequences of actions or a singular action for a specific reason – have long been respected as ways to cope with challenge in our lives – or help us heal.

Rituals can range from a performer taking a moment of quiet before hitting the stage to a reiki therapist rubbing her hands together to focus her healing energy before a treatment.  Placing flowers at a gravestone to honor the day of a loved one’s passing is a ritual of acknowledging grief and loss, which doctors say is healthy healing.

Scientists say these rituals give us touch points to reduce anxiety, give us comfort, or help us pay closer attention to what we’re doing – which are similar to the benefits of meditation. In a Stanford University study, the ritual and rhythm of knitting was found to have positive, meditative effects during challenge.  The ritual of a nightly family dinner – routinely planning, cooking, setting the table, and cleaning together – is said to have a rhythm of its own, which bonds family members and strengthens relationships. You brush your teeth every morning and night, which can be a meditation – a ritual of personal care.

Creating your own rituals can be a way to help heal a broken heart, kick destructive habits, or empower you to think more clearly.

Here are a few simple rituals for inspiration:

  • Pick a positive phrase or quote (mantra) and repeat it out loud or in your mind before you get out of bed and start every day that way;
  • Take 10 deep breaths before responding to any difficult email, then take 10 deep breaths before you send your reply (this might clarify your approach);
  • Take a certain amount of time to stretch before you go to bed and breathe deeper; it’ll help work the kinks out of your body so you rest better, and more sleep equals better health
  • Drink a glass of room temperature water when you wake up, which will kick start your metabolism and help you maintain and/or lose weight more efficiently

You get the idea; now, see if you can come up with rituals that feel like meditation in motion for your daily life.  To begin, keep them short and simple. Personal rituals can give your life some wonderful, healing health benefits and create meaningful moments at the same time.